Reflections of God's Goodness
The original Thanksgiving holiday was an occasion to pause and thank God for the many blessings He bestows on us-past, present and future. Abraham Lincoln’s words ring appropriate today as he said, “I entreat all Americans to ask God to commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”
Life today seems to travel at lightning speed. It is easy to forget to express appreciation, or even to feel grateful. Stress levels are high in our personal lives and in our culture. Common courtesy seems to have fallen by the wayside. How often do we hear or even say, “Thank you?”
Yet, Scripture says,
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
We are called to live thankful lives. What does that mean? How can we cultivate a grateful heart? How do we actually live grateful lives?
We can begin by counting our blessings. Do we recognize the many ways God has blessed us? Do we take time to raise our eyes and hearts to heaven to acknowledge the goodness of God? Do we actually say the words, “Thank you, Lord”– for life, for family, for food, for friends, for grace, for everything…?
St. Paul reminds us that,
“Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.” 2 Cor. 4:15
Yes, the purpose of our Thanksgiving is to give God glory, and yet as is often true with our generous God, when we act on His Word, not only do we give God glory, but we receive something in return. The more we express our gratitude to God, the more we are blessed with joy and peace. Joy wells up in us when we receive appreciation and when we give it.
Perhaps this November we can begin a blessing bag. Just get a small gift bag. Set it in a place that makes sense for you and place a pen and small pieces of paper nearby. Each time you find yourself thankful, or think of something you are thankful for, write it down and place it in the bag. Then, maybe weekly or monthly review the blessings in the bag and see how your heart will grow in thankfulness and your gratitude will overflow. A gratitude journal could work as well. Take a daily inventory of the things you are thankful for and watch how your awareness of God’s gifts changes and grows.
This tangible evidence of God’s blessings will remind us to give thanks in all circumstances. Then our Thanksgiving celebration and our lives will truly overflow with thankfulness, and God will be glorified by our efforts.
Sister Mary Ann Barnhorn
Director of Development
“Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude.” Phil 4:6